|Pilot Lt(jg) Charles Parker
Co-Pilot Lt(jg) Howard Hassett
Ditched January 18, 1945
Built by Lockheed at Burbank, CA. Assigned to the US Navy (USN) to squadron VPB-137. No known nickname or nose art.
On January 18, 1945 took off from Tacloban Airfield with "crew 18" on a search sector southwest of Leyte to North Borneo. Outbound, they ocated an enemy radio station on Balabek Island south of Palawan and strafed it. Proceeding to the coast of North Boreno overflying an oil field bombed previously, then returned over the Sulu Sea, jettisoned their bomb load to lighten the bomber but found a massive thunderstorm blocking their approach to Leyte. Running low on fuel, this PV-1 ditched into Ormoc Bay off Leyte.
A Moment of Silence by Howard Hassett:
"Seconds before hitting the water I experienced something I’ve never experienced before. There was an eerie moment of silence, peaceful and total silence. Orders were being given, actions were taken, visually you could sense things were happening, the props were still turning; but there was only silence. My immediate thought was that this was a space or a knifes edge somewhere between life and death. I also experienced knowing that whatever the outcome, I was OK with the ending. There was no panic, no hysteria, just a great sense of peace. Years later I would only be able to attribute this moment of silence to the Grace of God. However, the calm and peace I felt were suddenly removed when we HIT THE WATER. I was alive! What an impact. Before I could open my quick release belt and make my exit through the hatch above; the water was up to my chin. Lt. Parker finds his way out and also out our Crew Chief. The chief yells to me that the turret gunner is hurt and still in the aircraft. Without thought I went back into the sinking plane, into the cabin, grabbed our gunner, popped his Maywest and pushed him out. I then exit the door, pop my Maywest and go out after him. All the while yelling at him to swim or get sucked down. Parker and three crewmen are in the raft no more than fifty feet away. They pull us into the raft, and for the most part the men of Crew 18 are well."
The crew of four all escaped, and the PV-1 sank in 36 seconds and were rescued by a PT Boat and taken ashore. All returned to duty.
In 2009, this wreckage was discovered by Rob Lalumiere at 60m depth.
Rob Lalumiere adds:
"I found an American airplane sitting on the bottom at 60m just off Epil. I took a movie of it as I don't have any still shot camera. She is completely intact with the turrets guns on the roof, helmets inside etc. I searched exhaustively on the net for a plane that looked like and I think I have found it. She's a Lockheed PV-1 bomber. I spoke to a fisherman here that says he knows where there are two other planes!!! They're deep though 100m+. Anyway I'll check them out in time. I removed one of the 2 front 50 cal's (literally just lifted it out) and have the observation turret which was lying on the floor of the plane. Both are at my home and all cleaned up and displayed. I will also remove the other 50 cal and the top two 50 cal guns and turret cover."
A Moment of Silence by Howard Hassett
Thanks to Rob Lalumiere for additional information
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January 5, 2018